Former Minister Ernest Sams: “This country still has great potential”POSTED: 11/23/15 5:03 PM
St. Maarten – “My brief term in office has been an accelerating learning experience as well as one of recognizing that there is an urgent need for Government to restructure and optimize its organizational processes to become more effective and efficient, and above all eliminate waste,” former Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Ernest Sams said in a statement he issued this weekend.
“Entering with an energetic team of a tourism expert, a transportation expert, an economist, a junior policy adviser and secretary our hopes were high to accomplish many of the existing, shelved projects and some of our own ideas-one main one being developing a sound strategy to market St. Maarten online using all the various platforms,” Sams stated.
The minister said that in the 73 days he has been in office, his team was able to encourage South Americans to visit the island. A group of Brazilian tour operators traveled to St. Maarten to take stock and publish their experience in various travel magazines across Latin America.
“Along with my professional team, we realized the launch of our very own Bureau Intellectual Properties (BIP), finalizing outstanding matters, ensuring its smooth and structured entry into service. Various previous ministries have worked on this project. This new independent body is poised to be a revenue generating body for government, and its setup affords us opportunities beyond our shores,” Sams added.
“We were at the initial phase of bringing parties together to highlight the areas to be rectified based on the findings of the General Audit Chamber report,” the former minister said about the Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP), which he described as “another sensitive matter.” Sams added that steady progress was being made to rectify wrongs of the past, and that BTP should also be a revenue generating body.
Another key area was the attention given to the Civil Aviation department. “We envisioned to update its structure and personnel to allow us as a country to attain our CAT 1 status once again. We made both Civil Aviation and the Meteorological Department high priority areas to rectify and finalize. This project is ongoing,” he stated.
The Gaming Control Board is another possible revenue generating entity, the former minister observed. “We were full speed exploring all avenues for the initial financing of this project.”
Sams noted that the startup of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) was “months away” but that the project had to be halted “due to limitations placed on us not to commit to any long term projects with consultants when government fell.”
“This country still has great potential and can be the success it ought to be, if all those who proclaim their ‘love’ for this island, live up it to the true meaning of the word love,” Sams stated. “In the end it shouldn’t matter who gets the glory, I firmly believe it should be about the mission our team entered into with the Marcel Gumbs Council of Ministers. The objective was to create a better life for all and leave an even better one behind for those who follow.”
“While we fight the ‘self stuff’, who gets this or that, we forget the competitive environment we live in. While we fight among ourselves, the surrounding islands are forging ahead full speed in tourism and development.”
Sams concluded his statement with an elaborate thank you: “All in all, it was a great pleasure and honor for me to serve you the people of St. Maarten with my team of professionals and we wish our successors much success. I could not have done it alone and I thank my team of experts, the TEATT ministry and all those in the administration that supported us directly or indirectly.”